Just like Jonny Harris is Still Standing on his CBC TV show, members of the Fuller Lake Skating Club are Still Skating.
Coach Dominic Turgeon and the skaters couldn’t be happier about that, providing some normalcy in these challenging times from COVID.
“Yes, we are still skating,” confirmed Turgeon. “It came close several times with all of Dr. Henry’s restrictions but because the skaters are able to keep a distance while practicing – an ice surface is fairly large – and with good air circulation, a must with Zamboni carbon monoxide, we have been spared.”
Turgeon added he’s grateful to still be working in a time when jobs are hit and miss for so many.
“It’s been kind of a long haul, for sure. There’s underlying currents in society right now. Everyone’s on edge.
“Skating just makes kids a little more disciplined, structured. They’re doing as they’re told to do. They’re following through with all the COVID stuff.”
We asked some of the senior skaters with the club during last Friday’s session about why it’s so important for them to keep skating during this time when so many other events and activities are cancelled, what it’s like skating during these times and how things are different.
“I think it’s so important to skate during COVID because it keeps your state of mind stable and gives you something to release the stress of the panic that everyone is feeling,” noted Sophie Dawe, 16, of Ladysmith, a Grade 11 student at Nanaimo Secondary School. “I think having all the events cancelled is disappointing but I think it’s for the best.
“Skating during this time has been different and a lot of changes have been made but all those changes are keeping us safe and I think that’s the best idea. Not only that but the number of skaters in the dressing room has decreased and I think that’s good as it gives us all more space and we’re not as packed together. I’m very thankful we haven’t been cancelled like the hockey associations have because I feel bad for those players and I’d hate to be in that situation.”
“I really enjoy skating, especially now since there’s not much to do during these times,” offered Isabel Anderson, 15, a Grade 10 Ladysmith Secondary School student. “COVID has impacted a lot of my regular fun life so it’s nice to have skating to bring back some normalcy.
“On the ice it’s pretty much the same. We keep our distance from each other, but that’s normal. The only times we are wearing a mask is when we are close to our coaches in the jumping harness, coaching the younger skaters and anytime we are in the arena but not on the ice. Also it’s nice having a mask for those early practices, it keeps your face warm.”
“It is important for me to still be skating during this time for one of many reasons, we need to stay in shape and get the exercise needed,” pointed out Leah Brown, 13, a Grade 8 student at Chemainus Secondary School who happens to live right across from Fuller Lake Arena. “Another reason is still having that social aspect and remain keeping in touch with people you know. This is important in case we aren’t going to school due to COVID to talk and bond with people aside from your family. Therefore, this gives you another place to connect and see some of your friends during these times. Another thing I should add is skating during these times is important because we can then do a fun activity to keep us from being bored at home. This is especially important since other places to do physical activities such as the pool or Friday night skates may be closed due to COVID.
“I think everyone at the club is very grateful to still have an opportunity to be skating. For the most part, things are pretty much the same as before, but there are still some important rules we all must follow in order to stay safe during COVID. Some of those things are always remain six feet apart, wearing masks before and after going onto the ice, a certain amount of people allowed in the change rooms, certain doors to go in and out of the arena, and answering a series of COVID questions before entering the building. Although this may seem like a lot, the majority of these things are very easy to do and aren’t much of an inconvenience at all.”
Hannah Wilson, 13, of Saltair, a Grade 8 student at Ladysmith Secondary School and a Star 4 senior skater, places great importance on the opportunity to still be skating.
“It is important for me because with everything else cancelled it is something I can rely on in these strange times,” she confided. “It’s nice to get together with my skating friends and practice and have fun the way we normally do. Also, if I am off the ice for too long I could lose my refined sense of on-ice balance.
“Things are pretty different off the ice because of all the restrictions and the fact that we have to wear a mask, but when I’m on the ice it’s still pretty much the same because we need to keep our distance anyways to prevent accidents. No one wants to get sliced by a skate!”
Michaelle Torres Hernandez, 12, of Ladysmith, who’s in Grade 7 and doing distance learning through Island Connect-Ed at home this year due to COVID-19, noted it’s important to still be skating so no one gets rusty.
“We need to keep working hard and keep pushing to move forward, even if the rules are different,” she indicated.
“I’m so happy that we have the opportunity to skate during these times. I love skating and I’m grateful to be back at it after a long break. Everything is basically the same on the ice. We’re just more careful around everyone and remember to social distance. Or when needed, we wear masks.”
As for competitions, most of the girls are missing them like crazy and it remains uncertain whether that aspect of their skating will return any time soon.
“While we are supposed to have our first competition in the new year I am expecting it to be either shut down, or so far removed from what is ‘typical’ that it will be an entirely new experience,” Turgeon indicated.